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Popular Chinese Folk Games

Updated on February 23, 2008

A lot of popular Chinese games can be traced back thousands of years back to traditional festivals and celebrations. Today many of these games are still played by children in China and throughout the world.

Chinese Games Around the World

Chinese Yo-Yo
Chinese Yo-Yo
Top Spinning
Top Spinning
Girl Jumping Rope
Girl Jumping Rope
Competitive Rope Jumping
Competitive Rope Jumping

Popular Games from China

Chinese Yo-yo / Diabolo:

The Chinese yo-yo has been played with in China for thousands of years—it is both a game played by children and integrated into traditional festivals. The Western version of the Chinese yo-yo is called diabolo. While the two games are almost identical, there are some differences. The Chinese yo-yo’s axle is longer than the diabolo; and, the Chinese yo-yo is made with two disc-shaped wheels while the diabolo has two bell-shaped ends.

You play with the Chinese yo-yo by holding two sticks, one in each hand, that have been connected by a string. You spin the yo-yo along the string by manipulating the sticks. After practicing, you can perform a lot of tricks, like tossing the yo-yo into the air, and catching it on the string, but make sure it remains spinning. The Chinese yo-yo is a great physical activity that challenges your reflexes. By combining physical and mental concentration, a player is able to focus on manipulating the spinning yo-yo.

Jianzi / Shuttlecock:

A shuttlecock is what we call a birdie here in the United States, and used to play badminton around the world. Unlike badminton, Jianzi is not played with is not played with rackets. Instead, the body (except hands) is used to keep the shuttlecock in the air and off of the ground. Players tend to use their legs and feet to keep the shuttlecock in play. This game can be played solo, or with a group.

The game has been traced back to 5th century BC China, where it is believe to have originated from a military exercise. The game has since spread throughout the world. When played in a group, you can eliminate players if they let the shuttlecock touch the ground. The last one standing is the winner.

Spinning tops:

Chinese children have been playing spinning top games for centuries. Tops are now made from wood, metal, and plastic. Children tend to play with smaller tops, getting them to spin by manipulating them with a piece of string. However, top spinning has turned into a serious competition in China. Some of the larger tops can weight up to 110 pounds each, but are usually around 100 pounds for competing. The tops are kept spinning by using a whip.

Jumping rope:

The history of jumping rope can be dated back to both ancient Egypt and ancient China. Wherever it truly originated, it has spread around the world and is a common game for children to play. Jumping rope takes physical endurance as well as concentration. You can jump alone, in pairs, or even with groups of people.

Jump rope is played by holding an end of the rope in each hand. With the center of the rope skimming the ground behind your feet, you swing the rope up over your head, and back down towards your feet. As it reaches your feet, you jump over the rope. With a partner, each of you holds an end of the rope when you jump. If you are jumping with a group, two people hold the ends of the rope, but they stand facing each other. They turn the rope by circling their arms (the ones holding the rope) in unison for the jumper(s).

See How It's Done: Taiwanese-American Student Club Chinese Yo-yo Team

Jianzi: Chinese Hacky Sack Demo - Normal Speed

Spinning Tops Beijing Chaoyang Park

Amazing Chinese Jump Rope Video


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